Exploring the “second screen” at conferences with Web Directions Now

Over the last year or two, there’s been quite a good deal of conversation about “the second screen” or how people use mobile or tablet devices while watching television to augment that experience.

Of course, people have been using these devices (as well as laptops) for some time now at conferences like Web Directions, to tweet, post photos (and check their emails, which they really should try to stop doing as much as possible) and otherwise engage with the speakers, presentations, and one another.

But these have typically been quite ad hoc arrangements. Folks fire up their favourite twitter client, visit various web sites, check in on their emails just quickly (stop that!)

So, at Web Directions, we’ve been thinking for a while about how to create a more curated “second screen” experience, which brings together the people at an event, and the photos and tweets they are creating in response to it.

So today, we’re launching Web Directions Now. It’s still very much a work in progress, but we’re excited to see how it will work in the real world of Web Directions South, which is on the next couple of days here in Sydney.

So, whether you’re here at the conference, or a world away, you can keep tabs with what’s happening.

We’re excited to be seeing as a key part of it the public debut of EventWatch, from NICTA, with a little help from awesome Sydney UI/Dataviz folks Small Multiples, which visualises clusters of tweets about the event, using semantic analysis.

Web Directions’ own Guy Leech and John Allsopp combined to develop a real time directory of attendees via their twitter handles, a real time gallery of photos tagged wds12 at Instagram and Flickr, as well as the news section and interactive conference program powered by Timeline.js.

If you’re at the conference now.webdirections.org will hopefully help you make sure you don’t miss out on a session, a competition, or anything else that’s going on. Hopefully too it might help you find people there you know, or people who share similar interests, via their tweets and photos.

And if you can’t make it, then at least we hope you might have some sense of what’s happening, what folks are talking about (and eating, and wearing, and who knows what else). And think about coming along next time.

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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